Judging by my email, a number of readers seem to be under the impression that what we’ve been witnessing in the media and online over the past couple days is a very serious, nuanced and thoughtful exploration of Sarah Palin’s record in Alaska politics, a comparison of that record to the record of her Democratic opponents, and a sober discussion of whether she has sufficient experience to step in and run the country should John McCain, God forbid, die in office. If that’s what you seriously, seriously think has been going on lately, then you should probably look elsewhere for analysis of the media’s Palin coverage, because you and I are living on very different planets.
Since I don’t think I’ve made clear where I stand on all this…
There are few strains and I would tease them in out in a way Ross doesn’t.
1)There has been legitimate questions/inquiry into Palin’s past. This is a result of the McCain Camp clearly not doing its homework on a vet whatever arguments are attempted to make otherwise. So whatever else, it’s just reality that if the McCain Campaign doesn’t do the vetting, it’s going to be done for them by new & old media which inevitably is not going to be to the liking of those disposed to Palin.
e.g. Talking Points Memo has done what I think is very solid work on the so-called Troopergate possible scandal.
Now obviously an outfit like TPM is doing the vet because they oppose her politics. And they are doing background with more scrutiny hoping to find something they can use politically. This is different than the right-wing blogosphere relative to Obama how?
I wish we lived in a world where the spouses of candidates did not matter. I could care less what Teresa Heinz Kerry thinks or Cindy McCain or Michelle Obama since I’m not voting for them. BUT and this is a big but the world we do live in is one where the right-wing blogs were pushing the media to surface questions about Michelle Obama and her patriotism then yeah, the fact that Mr. Palin was a member of a secessionist party is gonna come up and should. Especially when she had been to/spoken to their conventions. Again I don’t think in the universe of things any of that really matters, just like I never thought Michelle Obama’s statement did either, but you can’t tell me one is newsworthy and gives up deep insight into the character of the presidential candidate (i.e. that the Obamas only love America insofar as America fulfills their dreams) and the other doesn’t.
2)Stuff that is completely out of bounds/off limits. As even Rudy correctly said last night, questioning Palin’s motherhood is totally uncool. Nobody has a place to ask questions about whether she can be VP with a special needs child. Rudy was also right that such a question would never come up about a man. If she becomes VP the father could stay home full time. Not like he needs to make money for the family then, yes? Here I’m with Ross. Of course it will be (for some) water cooler talk, but that doesn’t mean it needs media attention.
2a)Here is where the line gets thinner and the color grayer in my opinion. The children as Obama pointed out rightly off limits.
When Palin states that she opposes abortion even in the case of her daughter being raped however she has brought her daughter into the mix. And I’m not sure where the line on the response to that is.
This from the Gloria Steinem piece I linked to early–is this legit?:
She doesn’t just echo McCain’s pledge to criminalize abortion by overturning Roe vs. Wade, she says that if one of her daughters were impregnated by rape or incest, she should bear the child.
As others have pointed out that she said she was glad her daughter made the choice to keep the baby and it’s fair (though not pleasant imo) I think to say that her view on abortion if enacted would have stopped her daughter from making a choice. [Same point Steinem makes]. She would have been forced to keep the child, hence it would have been her choice.
I wish we could have that debate with reference to her daughter. And to be fair, I thought the photo-op on the tarmac with McCain blessing the new couple was disgusting. Almost as ugly as people calling it a shotgun wedding.
This is where I’m unclear what the norms should be. Clearly the candidate has views that have serious impact on people’s lives and particularly their family lives.
3)Then a whole mess of stuff that is beyond outside the bounds. The rumors, the photoshopping–I’m not even gonna link to those. Which it should be is a different from getting teased in the late night TV circuit for looking like Tina Fey or something. That just comes with the territory for any of them and hers is just the variation of the same theme unique to her. I’m talking about the kind of thing that Ross points out where Slate has a baby naming contest for Bristol’s child. Despicable.
I’ll know use this time to shamelessly plug an upcoming Skypecast Scott and I are going to do on this subject.